A utopian Declaration – Article by Eleni Mavrou, AKEL Political Bureau member
Sunday 12 December 2021, ‘Haravgi’ newspaper
73 years after the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations General Assembly and its provisions remain utopian.
73 years onwards, shelter, food, water, electricity, work, education, health care are not self-evident rights for all…
73 years onwards and in many countries around the world, including those that want to call themselves “modern and democratic”, we witness torture, violation of the right to a fair trial, restrictions on the freedom of expression, curbing of labour rights, child abuse, increased police violence, undermining of democratic institutions, femicide and neglect of the disabled!
73 years onwards, wars are creating armies of refugees who are trying to find a refuge, even risking their lives too.
73 years onwards and the persistence of the major economies in pursuing a perverse model of “development” perpetuates investment in fossil fuels and deforestation that has created the climate crisis that now endangers the entire planet.
Although progress has been made since 1948, the explosion of inequalities threatens both political and economic or social rights.
The second article of the Universal Declaration makes it clear that “all rights and freedoms” contained therein belong to all without discrimination of any kind – rich or poor, in any country, regardless of their sex or colour, language, irrespective of their religion, political or other beliefs.
The Declaration makes no distinction between primary and secondary rights. It did not say, for example, that the right to food takes precedence over the right to freedom of expression. It recognizes that in fact, all rights are inextricably linked. And when one of them is violated it often has consequences for others.
Austerity programmes, for example, implemented in the aftermath of the global financial crisis have made quality medical care less accessible and more expensive. We are paying for this, particularly today with the pandemic, at a huge human cost.
The inequality, unemployment and insecurity millions of people are suffering from have proved to be fertile ground for racist, divisive messages with devastating consequences. And, not only is no real action taken to combat racism, xenophobia, sexism and homophobia, but they are often fostered through the public discourse of state officials and the policies being pursued.
Rather than giving their citizens a voice, governments often choose to silence any dissent. The pandemic crisis has also brought about distortions in respect to individual rights and civil liberties.
The defence of human rights is now, more than ever before, imperative. It is a daily struggle for a better world, where freedom, justice and dignity should govern the lives of all people, in every corner of the planet.